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30-06 Elk Rifle Final Chapter (we hope!)

Posted: Thu Jan 11, 2018 2:53 pm
by mtngun
I started this project in 2005, then got very busy so the project gathered dust for 13 years. :lol: :lol: :lol:

This M700 started out as a lightweight elk rifle. Then for several years it was used to test hi-velocity cast bullets. The factory 10" twist barrel with its sloppy SAAMI chamber neck was not the best choice for hi-velocity cast so I ordered a 12" twist Shaw barrel and a PTG reamer with a tight neck.

The Shaw's quality was terrible and the PTG reamer was a little undersize, plus my newbie gunsmithing skills were not the greatest at that time. After mucking around with the Shaw for a short time I decided to write it off as a learning experience and start over with a better quality barrel. :(

A Shilen econo-grade with #4 "light varmit" taper and 12" twist was intended to be a compromise -- heavier than ideal for elk hunting and lighter than ideal for bench testing cast bullets, but tolerable for both uses. Somewhere along the way I found time to chamber the Shilen but then got busy again and the unassembled project gathered dust. :?

Then I inherited my dad's M700 and turned it into a switch barrel benchrest rifle for testing cast bullets. With dad's M700 dedicated to testing cast bullets, there was no longer any need to use my M700 as a test mule, so it could go back to being an elk rifle! 8-)

Today I turned the Shilen to a slimmer taper, similar to a #3 "sporter" taper, and whacked off the muzzle at 25" length. It's still a stout barrel that weighs one pound more than a 22" Remington sporter barrel.

-- 3 lb 7 oz Shilen #3
-- 2 lb 7 oz long action & rings
-- 1 lb 7 oz Lone Wolf stock
-- 12 oz Leopold scope (either 6x or 3-9x)
-- 8 lb 1 oz total.

That's pretty typical weight for an elk rifle.

It's been so long since I chambered the Shilen with a homemade reamer that I've forgotten the exact chamber specs :lol: , but the chamber neck seems to be about 0.337" diameter. The throat starts out at 0.310"+ and has about 0.150" freebore, followed by a 1 degree leade. That's longer and sloppier than I would prefer but I think I can live with it. Worst case I may set the barrel back one thread to snug up that long throat but I'd rather not because with my luck I would get busy again and this project might never get done! :lol:

The Shilen is crome-moly so it needs some sort of finish. Powder coat? Rattle can? Then all that will be left is to test basic functioning, maybe send a few firelapping rounds down the tube, and work up a load with Nosler Partitions.

Re: 30-06 Elk Rifle Final Chapter (we hope!)

Posted: Sun Jan 14, 2018 7:17 pm
by mtngun
While I never experienced an unintentional discharge with the stock Remington trigger, on the other hand I was never able to dial in a satisfactory trigger pull while maintaining reliable functioning. After reading Jack Belk's book about all the things that can go wrong with the Walker trigger i opted to upgrade to a Rifle Basix ERV3 with a 4 - 20 ounce adjustment. Actually, I purchased the ERV3 several years ago, and since then I've heard mixed reviews about the Rifle Basix. If I had to do it over I might go with another brand, but in the meantime I'll give this a try.

So far the only thing I don't like about the Basix trigger is that it came with a bolt lock. The bolt is locked when the safety is in the "SAFE" position. The original Walker triggers also had a bolt lock -- it was a marketing decision because the Winchester M70 had a bolt lock so Remington had to keep up with the Jones's. However, the M70 has a 3 position safety while the M700 is only 2 position. Lacking a middle position, it was impossible to unload a bolt-locked M700 with the safety "ON." That was a truly stupid design and people ended up getting hurt while attempting to unload their M700's in the "FIRE" position, so Remington discontinued the bolt lock.

I want to be able to cycle the bolt with the safety "ON" so I disabled the bolt lock. Otherwise, I left the Basix as it came from the factory. The trigger pull has quite a bit of take-up before it releases, but I don't find that objectionable on a hunting rifle. I havent measured the pull but it feels like one pound and I like it.

The barrel was painted with rattle can stove paint, then topped off with stove polish. Stove polish contains wax so it may deter rust. In any event the flat black finish matches the matte finish of the receiver, it will be easy to touch up if the need arises, and I usually have stove paint and stove polish on hand.

The factory barrel combined with the 23 ounce carbon fiber stock made the balance muzzle light, while the 25" Shilen barrel balances much better and is still reasonable to carry at 8 pounds 1 ounce. The finished product is not fancy, it's just a practical hunting rifle.

My old '06 load used IMR4350 to push Nosler 165 gr. partitions but I'm low on IMR4350 so I tried H414. H414 gave good velocities but had high velocity variation, so then I tried AA4350 and velocity variation was much better. Without doing much load development, I settled on 59.5 gr. AA4350 lit by a Federal 210 primer, just because Quickload said that was a max load.

My bench is currently set up for revolver, not for rifles, but I hastily assembled some rests that did not fit the hunting rifle very well. Rests for my indoor bench are more complicated than average because I shoot through a small opening and the rest needs to position the barrel at just the right height. Anyway, the hasty rests were not a good fit and moved with every shot, but it was the best I could do on short notice.

Today's shooting session reminded me how unpleasant it is to shoot a light '06 from the bench for any length of time. :? :o At first I tried a 70's vintage Leupold 3x9, but it didn't resolve bullet holes on the target any better than my 90's vintage Leupold 6x42, so I decided to go with the 6x42. Then I was reminded what a pain it is to sight in the older Leupold scopes with their mushy no-click 2MOA adjustments that take a shot or two to "settle down" every time you make an adjustment. I was making an adjustment at the beginning of every group which meant the first shot of every group was suspect. :roll: :twisted: Eventually I got the POI close with a sub MOA 3-shot group and called it a day.

Rather than use this rifle for experimentation, I want it to be dedicated to hunting and always sighted in for my hunting load (Nosler Partitions). If time allows I may do more load tweaks but I don't think itty bitty groups are important for an elk rifle with a 6X scope -- an elk is a big target and I confine my shots to reasonable ranges. What is important is having a reliable scope that is sighted in and reliable bedding that does not shift (the action sits on pillars & Devcon while the barrel is 100% free floated). When the weather gets better I'll check the POI at 200 yards and perhaps 300 yards, but otherwise I'm just thrilled that this rifle is ready to hunt again. 8-)

Re: 30-06 Elk Rifle Final Chapter (we hope!)

Posted: Sun Jan 14, 2018 7:35 pm
by mtngun
Notes on the chamber specs, not that the reader cares, but I like to post the specs in my threads because otherwise I'll forget them and lose my notes. :lol:

-- max case length for this chamber is 2.494", trim to 2.490".
-- chamber neck is 0.336" - 0.337". Factory cases typically have 0.013" thick necks resulting in 0.334" OD with 0.308" jacketed bullets. If ever I need to shoot oversize cast bullets then I may need to turn necks.
-- a 165 Nosler Partition jams at 3.383" - 3.391" COL. So far I've been loading at "jam minus 10" but haven't attempted to optimize that.
-- I did fire 10 firelapping rounds, because the Shilen had some intermittent tool marks on its lands. 10 firelaps won't completely eliminate the marks but it'll knock off the sharp edges.
-- A fired case measures 2.625" with my homemade headspace gage. That number has no absolute meaning other than as something to go by when adjusting the case sizing die.